TR Daily Input Sought on Impact of Foreign Ownership Review EO
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Monday, April 27, 2020

Input Sought on Impact of Foreign Ownership Review EO

In light of the recent executive order by President Trump establishing the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector, the FCC’s International Bureau is seeking input to refresh to docket in the agency’s proceeding on executive branch reviews of applications involving an ownership stake of 10% or more by a foreign entity.

The executive order established the new committee as a successor to the less formal “Team Telecom” process for reviewing applications for licenses and license transfers before the FCC, as well as existing licenses, for national security and law enforcement concerns raised by foreign participation in the U.S. telecom service sector (TR Daily, April 6).

The Team Telecom process had been criticized by industry and others for its lack of deadlines which has led to lengthy waits for final action on applications. In 2016, the FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at improving the timeliness and transparency of the process.

In addition to seeking comment, today’s public notice in IB docket 16-155 places Executive Order 13913 in the docket record.

The executive order establishes a 120-day initial review period by the committee, to be followed by a 90-day secondary assessment if the committee determines that the foreign ownership poses a risk to national security or law enforcement interests that cannot be mitigated by standard mitigation measures, the bureau’s public notice notes.

The public notice seeks comment on the effects of the executive order on the rules and procedures proposed in the 2016 notice of proposed rulemaking.

“We seek comment generally on whether the Executive Order warrants any further or different rules to improve timeliness and transparency,” it says.

“In particular, we invite the Executive Branch to provide its view on the effect of the Executive Order in this proceeding and on the following issues. Will the Committee make publicly available a standard set of questions and requests to applicants? If so, how will applicants be able to access them? Would the Committee expect an applicant’s responses to such questions to be submitted to the Committee at the time the application is filed? Does the Executive Branch continue to propose that certain certifications be made by applicants as part of the application process? If so, are there any changes to the proposed certifications? And does the Executive Branch continue to propose that all applicants make the certifications, or that such certifications apply solely to those applicants with reportable foreign ownership?” it adds.

Initial comments will be due 30 days after publication of the notice in the “Federal Register.” Reply comments will be due 14 days later.

FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, a long-time critic of the Team Telecom process, said in response to the public notice, “Updating the record in our existing ‘Team Telecom’ proceeding is an appropriate next step given the passage of time and President Trump’s recent Executive Order formalizing and restructuring the federal review of foreign investment in communications providers. I appreciate [FCC] Chairman [Ajit] Pai authorizing this Public Notice and look forward to seeing an implementing order in the months ahead. Getting to this point proves that my analysis over five-plus years of advocacy was absolutely correct: Team Telecom can be reformed to eliminate its opaque and unpredictable existing practices, while still firmly preserving our ability to protect U.S. national security.” —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]

MainStory: FederalNews InternationalNews FCC

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